POLICE are appealing for information after more than 30 luxury watch distraction thefts and robberies across Hampshire.
There have been at least six actual and attempted thefts by women targeting elderly men wearing luxury watches in and around Petersfield.
And men given one for Christmas could now be targets of the foreign gang.
Until now Hampshire Constabulary has been careful about publicly linking the carbon-copy thefts, but a growing number of similar offences has led to the appeal being launched.
A spokesman said: "We are appealing for information following a spate of luxury watch distraction thefts and robberies across the county in the past year.
"Detectives are investigating the incidents and we would like to remind people to be on their guard. We are urging the public to report any offences immediately to help apprehend the offenders."
The two women, described as aged 40 and 20 with ’eastern European’ accents, have been dubbed the ’Rolex Rippers’.
They use ’spotters’ to identify victims; an average top-end Rolex, the Rippers’ watch of choice, can cost more than £14,000.
Using distraction tactics, they ask for directions, or urge the victim to sign a petition, and the women remove the victim’s watch.
This sleight-of-hand theft happens when the ’grateful’ women try to hug their victim, although in some cases they have ripped a watch off a victim’s wrist.
They then make their getaway in a waiting car.
Police are advising people to check the identity of anyone who approaches them in the street, and to wear jewellery and watches discreetly.
Items can also be forensically marked to make them more easily identifiable and harder for thieves to sell on.
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